I don’t think anyone really thinks they will experience something like this in their lifetime. The Coronavirus pandemic is an unprecedented event, and the nature of which brings several realities to light. The thing about these realities is that they are true all of the time. It is just that when something like this happens on this scale, it brings these truths to surface. Here are 5 truths I have been reflecting on as it relates to this outbreak:
We are selfish. We have vacation plans in the middle of May, and, I must confess, I have been concerned about what this will mean for those plans. Things about our lives are being disrupted by this emergency, and I don’t like it. I don’t like it one bit. I know other people are really disappointed about the cancellation of NCAA March Madness tournaments. I know some people have had travel plans cancelled. We don’t like when our lives are disrupted. I don’t think it is a terrible thing to be disappointed or frustrated. However, I would simply point out that for a majority of us, the reasons we are upset are entirely selfish. We are, by nature, prone to selfishness.
Control is an illusion. Part of our selfish inclination is a desire to control. With all of our modern technological and medical advancements, we have actually created quite a convincing illusion that we can control the world around us. But, things like this pandemic remind us that we can’t. We can play a part in what future realities unfold to a degree, but ultimately, we can’t control the world we are living in. I am reminded of Proverbs 16:9, “The heart of man plans his way, but the LORD establishes his steps.” We can plan all we want to try and control all the variables of our situation, but crises like this remind us that we ultimately are not in control.
Life is brief. None of us are promised tomorrow. I don’t believe we should live in fear. And, honestly, living “as if every day was your last” is a lot of pressure. For example, I was sick with the flu a couple of weeks ago. I was down with a fever for 4 days. I didn’t do anything productive during those days. The pressure to make every day “count” caused me to feel depressed that my sickness was hindering that. This truth should not induce pressure or fear, but perspective. Life is brief. Life is too short to place more value time punched in than time with family. Life is too short to not seek to reconcile that broken relationship. Life is too short to not at least explore the deeper questions of life concerning God and life after life. James 4:13-14 compares our life to a mist: “Now listen, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.’ Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.” None of us are promised tomorrow, so all of us should live today with purpose that is rooted in peace with God.
What matters becomes priority. It is amazing that when crisis hits, we tend to realize how petty some of the stuff was that we devoted so much energy to. When the above truths confront us, they bring life into perspective. Specifically with the COVID-19, many of us are recognizing the value of doing what is best for the sake of the most vulnerable in our society. Many of us maybe realize how much we value our parents and grandparents. Many of us maybe realize how important the people are in our lives.
Community matters. This morning our church cancelled services and offered an online teaching. The teaching was valuable. Sleeping in was refreshing. Staying in was ok. However, the value of gathering in person with the community of believers was made so clear. We have had sickness in our home over the last couple of weeks that has prevented us from doing the things we normally do. Now with this Coronavirus outbreak, the thought of having to practice “social distancing” is a little discouraging. Don’t get me wrong. We are glad to cooperate with any and every effort to reduce the spread of this thing. But, the fact is this: we miss our people. We miss our community. The message this morning was good, but the online version of it was no substitute for gathering together as embodied, physical souls. “Some people have given up the habit of meeting for worship, but we must not do that. We should keep on encouraging each other, especially since you know that the day of the Lord’s coming is getting closer” (Hebrews 10:25 CEV).
So, when things settle down–which they will at some point–maybe we could remember to repent of our selfishness as it pops up in our lives, surrender control to the One who is high above all things, live life to the full, prioritize that which matters most, and connect with others in meaningful ways (a great way to do this is by finding and connecting with a healthy community of believers).